Narrow Strip Piecing & Inchie Edging

In my last post, The Second Inchie Quilt, I wrote about making a small quilt on which to mount some inchie squares I’d made using a fabric collage technique. I skipped over the construction details of the pieced quilt, and said I’d post about that later. So here, at long last, is that post.

I used a piecing technique that I learned from an episode of The Quilt Show (episode 711) from guest quilter Rosalie Dace. I took photos as I went along, so I’m going to show how I did the narrow piecing step-by-step.

First, of course, there was a plan:

Second Inchie quilt - planning

My little quilt would begin with a yellow square, and then have sections of yellow strips separated by narrow purple strips. The yellow strips increase in width: 1/2″ ; 1”; and 1 1/2”. Each of the narrow strips of purple are 1/8” wide. If I were to try cutting those strips before attaching them, I’d have had to cut strips 5/8“ wide, which would have left me very little room for error in stitching them together. And the truth is, I’m not the most accurate of sewers. Instead, I cut wider strips to work with and then trimmed them down to size as I went along.

Here is the quilt top with the first bit of piecing already done. It’s now ready for the next purple strip across the top.

Second Inchie quilt - partially pieced

First, I sewed on a wide strip of purple fabric with a 1/4” seam allowance.

Second Inchie quilt - purple strip stitched on

I pressed the seam allowance towards the purple (in other words, toward the strip that will be narrow).

Second Inchie quilt - press towards purple

I aligned the 1/8” measurement of my cutting ruler with the edge of the seam allowance.

Second Inchie quilt - prepare to trim

Then I trimmed the purple fabric so that only 1/8” is showing. I also trimmed off the excess length.

Second Inchie quilt - 1/8" showing

The next step was to press the seam allowance back the other way. Now the entire width of the purple strip is visible. This prevented the seam allowance from getting in the way while attaching the next strip.

Second Inchie quilt - press seam allowance back

This is what it looked like from the right side.

Second Inchie quilt - front view

The next step was to attach the next yellow strip (which you can see was wider and longer than what was needed here)

Second Inchie quilt - pin next strip

When that was sewn together, I pressed the seam allowance towards the yellow. I found that this helped the purple strip lie flat.

Second Inchie quilt - press narrow strip open

This is what is looked like from the right side, with the yellow strip trimmed to the correct width and length. The purple strip is a fairly accurate 1/8” wide.

Second Inchie quilt - from right side

To continue on, I used the same technique to add a purple strip to the left side of the piece. I also used the technique to piece the strip to be added next. In this picture the  left strip has been pieced and is ready to attach.

Second Inchie quilt - add next strip

And here it is attached.

Second Inchie quilt - next strip stitched on

I continued in the same way to build the next layer of purple and yellow strips. Then I ended with a wider strip of purple. Initially I was going to keep on with the narrow purple and wider yellow concept, but when I attached the first strip of purple  across the top and pressed it open I decided that I liked it the way it was. So instead of trimming it down to create the 1/8” strip, I left it wide. Sometimes things just tell you what they should be.

Second Inchie quilt - finished top

Another challenge I faced with this little quilt was finishing the edges of those little inchies. I knew I wanted to use a narrow satin stitch, but working with such a small piece under the presser foot was next to impossible. Instead, I turned to some iron-on tear-away stabilizer for help (I used Sulky Totally Stable, which feels very paper-like). I ironed the stabilizer to the back of the inchies, leaving space between them. Now I had a stable platform to manoeuvre under the needle. This satin stitch is about 1/8” wide.

finishing edges of inchies

Once stitched, the inchies pull away from the stabilizer very easily, and the excess stabilizer on the back of the inchie pulls away nicely, too.

removed from stabilizer

This technique lends itself well to mass production.

mass production!

The iron-on stabilizer worked well, but I’m sure you could just as easily use a thin freezer paper, or any thin paper and a spray of temporary adhesive like 505.

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